Posts Tagged ‘india’

9 factors that increase your risk for HIV

Friday, April 25th, 2014

HIV/ AIDS has killed more than 25 million people in the past 3 decades. But the current statistics are much more frightening. It has been estimated that there are more than 34 million people all around the world living with HIV infection. One of the main reasons why HIV/AIDS is so widespread is the lack the knowledge about risk factors and transmission of HIV. This lack of knowledge is not restricted to people living in remote areas. The highly educated population also seem equally illiterate when it comes to HIV. Maybe in the future we could have a cure for HIV but until then knowing the risk factors is the best way to stay away from HIV.

1. Having unprotected sex: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the causative agent of AIDS, a disease that completely destroys the immune system of the body, making the infected person susceptible to several other diseases. HIV circulates throughout the body via the blood stream. It is also present in sexual fluids (semen and vaginal secretions). Therefore, the primary risk factor for acquiring the infection is having unprotected sex. This includes vaginal, oral as well as anal intercourse. The risk is highest in anal intercourse followed by vaginal and lastly oral intercourse.

2. Multiple sex partners: Having unprotected sex puts you at a risk of HIV but with multiple sex partners the risk almost doubles. Multiple sex partners increase your chances of having intercourse with an infected individual.

3. Other sexually transmitted infections: Not many people know that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like syphilis, herpes and gonorrhea increase the risk of contracting HIV. The risk of HIV in individuals earlier infected with an STD is 2-5 times more compared to a person without an STD. Studies suggest that sexually transmitted diseases cause certain changes in the genital tissues, increasing the susceptibility of HIV transmission.

4. Transfusion of contaminated blood and blood products: Whether you were transfused blood during a surgery or are a hemophiliac who needs frequent blood transfusion, your chances of contracting HIV are high if the transfused blood is not tested for HIV. As a standard in medical practice, blood is always tested before a transfusion but recently several cases of HIV due to transfusion of infected blood have been noticed.  

5. Contaminated syringes and needles: Use of unsterilised syringes is still practised in various parts of developing countries, including India. According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) about 5 percent of HIV infections took place due to unsafe injection practices in the year 2002. And, even today the use of unsafe injections is quite rampant. This even includes vaccination given to children. 

6. Drug abuse: If you’re injecting drugs like ketamine, GHB and poppers intravenously, you are more likely to get infected with  HIV. These drugs affect you brain and impair your decision making ability. So you’re more likely to share needles and have unprotected sex.

7. Unsafe piercings: If you’re fond of body piercings and tattooing, you should be aware that you are at a higher risk of HIV. The needles used in these processes could be contaminated or infected with HIV. Ensure that you get piercing and tattooing done from a trained professional. 

8. Negligence in medical practice: All health professionals and health care workers including nurses, doctors, laboratory analysts and pathologists, who have to handle blood samples of patients on a daily basis, are at a risk of HIV if they fail to take necessary precautions and do not follow medical hygienic practices. Handling samples without wearing gloves, improper disinfection and discarding methodology, all can increase your high risk of HIV.

9. Mother-to-child HIV risk: Women with HIV can pass on the virus to their child during pregnancy. Mother-to-child transmission of virus can also take place through breast-feeding because breast milk in an infected mother has high viral load.


  • HIV Risk Factors. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (
  • HIV Transmission Risk (

Ruling on gays hurts HIV fight in India: activists

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

NEW DELHI: Gay-rights activists and health workers in India are warning that a new Supreme Court ruling criminalising homosexuality will undo years of progress in fighting AIDS by driving gay and transgender people underground.

They say HIV services expanded and gay and transgender people became more likely to seek them out after a landmark 2009 ruling decriminalised same-sex acts by throwing out a colonial-era law.

India’s top court revived the law Dec 11, saying it is up to the country’s lawmakers, not the court, to change it.

Activists fear the ruling will make gays and transgender people too fearful to seek treatment or counseling, driving HIV infections up. Indian health officials said last year that annual new HIV infections among adults had fallen 57 per cent over the previous decade.

The reinstated law calls homosexuality an ”unnatural offense” punishable by 10 years in jail.

Criminal prosecutions were rare when the law was previously in force, but police used it to harass people and demand bribes.

”This law has made us all criminals,” said Lakshmi Tripathi, a transgender activist who added that the law will stop many people from approaching doctors or health clinics for prevention or treatment for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

”How can I go to an HIV/AIDS clinic?” asked Tripathi. ”If I did, I can be hauled into jail for my lifestyle, for violating the law.”

Health activists say that before the law was overturned in 2009, nongovernmental organisations that ran AIDS intervention centers faced the threat of police raids.

In 2005, police raided an HIV outreach center in the Indian capital and forced it to close, said Shaleen Rakesh of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

”This happened in New Delhi,” he said. ”The situation in small towns and in the rural hinterland is much worse.”

UNAIDS said in a statement this month that the number of organisations providing HIV services to gay and transgender people rose more than 50 per cent while homosexuality was decriminalized.

”After the 2009 ruling, we saw a jump in gay men, bisexuals and transgenders coming to public health centers on their own, seeking medical advice or treatment. They felt it was safe to do so,” said Ashok Row Kavi of the Humsafar Trust, a group working with the gay community.

”Our big worry now is that they may stay away from health centers out of fear,” he said.

India’s reversal comes as gays and lesbians worldwide rack up significant victories in their quest for marriage equality and other rights.

Same-sex marriage has legal recognition in 18 countries, 18 US states and the District of Columbia.

Parts of Asia appear to be growing more tolerant of homosexuality. China is increasingly accepting of gays and lesbians, although same-sex partnerships are not recognised.

A law against ”hooliganism” that used to target gays was eliminated in 1997 and homosexuality was removed from China’s list of mental disorders in 2001.

Thailand has no laws against homosexuality and is generally tolerant of gays, lesbians and transgender people.

It is the only country in Southeast Asia to have a government-sponsored tourism campaign ”Go Thai. Be Free” that is aimed at gay and lesbian travelers.

But in much of the world, homosexuality remains deeply taboo.

According to international human rights groups, more than 70 countries have laws criminalising homosexual conduct, with India by far the most populous.

Over the past decade, homosexuals have gained a degree of acceptance in parts of India, especially its big cities.

Many bars have gay nights, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.

The last few years have also seen large gay pride parades in New Delhi and other big cities.

Still, being gay is seen as shameful in most of the country, and many homosexuals remain closeted.

Gay rights activists in India had hoped the 2009 decision would usher in greater acceptance of gays and lesbians, but now fear the stigma they face in India’s deeply conservative society will prevent them from disclosing their sexual orientation and openly accessing health care programs.

The social stigma faced by young gay men meant that they are forced by their families into marriage, putting their wives too at risk of contracting HIV.

HIV prevalence in the general population in India is around 0.31 per cent, according to World Bank figures. According to the AIDS control organisation, in 2010-11 the rate was 4.4 per cent for gay men and 8.8 percent for transgendered people.

The rate for gay men has been going down, but Rakesh of the India HIV/AIDS Alliance warned that the court ruling could change that.

”India is sitting on an HIV time bomb,” he said. ”If India does not address this situation immediately, not only the gay and transgender community, but the rest of the population is also sitting on the same time bomb.”

NE India’s makeshift fight against AIDS

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011


As access to treatment increases, the United Nations says the number of people dying from HIV-AIDS is falling worldwide.

But in India, particularly in the northeast, a constant flow of heroin from its opium-producing neighbour is helping to spread both disease and addiction. Of the 270,000 people in the district of Churachandpur, more than one-quarter of the women use some kind of drugs and suffer from HIV; many, due to a lack of financial opportunities, will end up turning to prostitution to feed their addiction.

Despite this cycle, in an area the size of Barbados, there are no long-term treatments facilities for those suffering from addiction or HIV.

Al Jazeera’s Prerna Suri, in Churachandpur, reports on a cycle that disproportionately affects the women of India’s northeast.

Low stock: HIV patients denied second-line drugs

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

About 750 HIV patients requiring advanced treatment in the state are forced to go without life-saving second-line anti-retroviral therapy (ART) drugs which are in short supply.

Hospitals, which are supposed to hand them out free, say they don’t have adequate stocks of these medicines. Officials of the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the country’s nodal agency for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, said the sudden increase in the number of patients receiving second-line of treatment has caused the countrywide shortage of these drugs. Healthcare experts and NGOs fear this would increase the number of patients dropping out of the drug regimen, causing more cases of drug resistance.

ART is a combination of highly advanced drugs meant to fight HIV infection and increase life expectancy of HIV-AIDS patients. If the first-line of treatment is not adequate to bring down the viral load, patients are given the second-line of drugs. Both these regimens are provided free of cost by NACO.

Patients advised to take higher dosage of pediatric drugs

In Tamil Nadu, only two ART centres provide second line of drugs. They are located in Tambaram in Chennai and in Salem city. At least 150 patients from Salem, Krishnagiri, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Ooty and Coimbatore visit the Salem centre to collect a month’s dosage.

For the past one month, patients have been asked to take higher dosage of pediatric drugs or purchase them from the retail market. Second-line ART regimen consists of tenofovir, lamivudin, atazanavir and ritonovir. But ART centre managers say that the NACO has not supplied them with ritonovir. Krishnagiri-based G Karunanidhi, member of Tamilnadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS, is among those prescribed the second line ART medicine. He visits the ART centre every month to collect his monthly quota of drugs.

On July 18, the centre gave him medicines for only four days though his usual dosage is for a month. “They asked me to come back to Salem after four days to collect the remaining drugs. I went back on July 25 and I was told they had not received the stock,” he said. P Nagaraj of Salem Network of PLWHA wasn’t as lucky. He was asked to take the pediatric ART drugs. “They told me that I could take double the child’s dose.

I avoided it as I feared side effects,” he said. Experts say the drugs may not produce the desired effect unless they are taken at the right time and dosage. Dr Sentha Krishnan, who is in charge of Salem ART centre, said there were no stocks of ritonovir tablets. “We have not received supply of the drugs from NACO since mid-July. We ask patients to take a combination of lopinavir-ritonovir tablets. It has no side effects.

NACO has told us the stocks will be replenished in a few days,” she said. NACO’s regional co-ordinator SThennarasu said the situation was the same all over the country. NACO’s national programme officer (ART) BB Rewari confirmed that the number of persons taking second line ART has increased. “We have added five more centres to give the second line of ART drugs. We are doing our best to give everyone the medicines. Instead of buying from international companies, we are now planning to go in for local pharmaceutical companies,” he said.

India PM hails success in battle against HIV

Monday, July 4th, 2011


NEW DELHI — India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday hailed the country’s success in slashing new HIV/AIDS infections by half in the past decade, but warned against complacency.

“Our HIV/AIDS programme can justifiably claim a measure of success,” he told a conference in New Delhi discussing means to combat the disease.

But he added that new Ministry of Health figures estimating that 2.4 million Indians are still living with HIV means “there should be no room for complacency”.

“With the introduction of antiretroviral treatment, HIV has become a chronic but manageable health condition,” Singh said.

While Singh was praising government efforts to combat the virus, around 100 people living with HIV protested outside the ministry of health saying efforts were insufficient.

Despite the significant drop in fresh cases, India still has the highest number of people living with HIV after South Africa and Nigeria.

So-called “first-line” antiretroviral therapy (ART) — a cocktail of drugs to slow the effects of the virus on the body’s immune system — has been widely available and free of charge in India’s public health system since 2004.

More expensive “second-line” ART is also free, although access to it is limited to just a few centres across the country.

“India’s testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS have increased their reach,” Singh said.

Now, Indian health workers are focusing on prevention of transmission from infected pregnant women to their newborn children, making it a “priority area,” Singh said.

India’s AIDS control programme has reduced new HIV/AIDS infections by 50 percent in the last 10 years and mortality rates amongst those infected with HIV have also fallen, Singh noted.

The health ministry said the number of new HIV infections in India has fallen to to 120,000 annually from 270,000 reported in 2000.

Indian pharmaceutical companies have helped to drive down the cost of life-saving generic drugs to treat people with HIV in India and other developing countries.

Singh said one of India’s key strategies has been to scale up preventive education campaigns among high-risk groups such as sex workers.

Other high risk groups include men having sex with men, India’s health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

“We can track female sex workers but it is almost impossible to identify men having sex with men. We need to take the message to them to further stabilise the epidemic,” Azad said separately at the conference.

Unprotected sex, particularly between sex workers, their clients and partners, is the main factor behind the spread of the disease, UNAIDS says.

Contaminated needles also play a key role in spreading the virus in India’s northeastern regions, the UN agency says.

Singh said there should be no discrimination in India against people living with HIV, condemning frequent denial of school admission to children with the virus.

“We must see that there is no social ostracisation,” he said.

He also urged the global community not to slacken in its fight against what he called one of the “biggest health challenges confronting humanity.”